Peter Devlin is aiming to reach the business end of a tournament in the upcoming season, after a mixed first campaign on the professional circuit.
Devlin has just completed his maiden year on the World Snooker Tour, during which the highlight was a superb 5-4 defeat of three-time World Champion Mark Williams at the European Masters last September. However, since then he has suffered a downturn in results which leaves him 114th in the world rankings and with work to do to remain on the circuit.
Despite the jeopardy involved in a second season fight for survival, 24-year-old Devlin has vowed to ignore his rankings situation. Instead he wishes to taste what it feels like to compete in the business stages of at least one ranking tournament throughout the campaign.
We caught up with him to find out how he found his maiden season and what he has been up to away from the baize…
Peter, how did you find your first season on the circuit?
“It wasn’t the dream I expected, just purely because of lockdown. In terms of the snooker it was amazing and I did have some great experiences. It got a little bit drab towards the end and lockdown didn’t help with that in the second half of the season. Performances definitely dipped.
“I found the media stuff enjoyable. It is nice to be in the limelight a little bit and it is nice to have people interested in what is going on. It is good to be part of the tour and have your name thrown about. It’s been an experience, I’ve enjoyed the interviews and I’ve enjoyed the TV coverage. That is the dream, it is why you play. You put in all of the work to be seen doing your thing on the biggest stages.”
How did you find the transition from amateur snooker to facing the best on the planet?
“What I expected didn’t really happen in terms of the performances by other players. I’ve had some heavy defeats, but they were more down to me not performing rather than other players being too good. I heard all of the stories before I turned professional about not being able to get a shot and I just can’t see that happening. I’ve had chances in all of my matches. If I performed better in some, I could have won more of them. Everyone is human and everyone misses. It is easy to say how hard it is and that nobody ever misses, but people do miss. If you play well and take your chances you can win.”
You looked at ease in that win against Mark Williams on the main table. Do you think you need that extra spotlight to play your best snooker?
“I don’t think I need it as I’ve had some results on the back tables and some results on the TV table. When it goes well for me it is a great bonus, as I feel I am able to play out there and it gives me a little bit of a buzz. Once I am settled in I will thrive in a main table situation, but it is hard to settle. I was useful that when I played Mark Williams at the European Masters, which was my biggest win of the season, it was my second game of the tournament. I was already relaxed and wasn’t a rabbit in the headlights. Towards the end of the season, when lockdown kicked in and I wasn’t as sharp, I did feel very exposed on the TV table because all eyes were on me. When I played Mark Williams I felt good and got my game going. I’ve always felt that I am a person that can do it when it matters. I’ve also thrown some matches away. That’s just the game.”
Do you feel you can turn your ranking around in the second season and retain your place on the World Snooker Tour?
“A lot of my experiences have taught me that it isn’t really about consistency, it isn’t about even having a good season. In order to stay on the tour, you need to win big money and in order to win big money you need to do really well in one tournament. That one tournament needs to be a major. The first round of the World Championship is a huge game and it may all come down to that. For that reason I’ve taken a lot of the pressure off myself and I’m not really thinking about staying on. Ultimately the goal is to have a deep run. I want to get to a quarter, semi or a final and experience that buzz. I want to have a crack at winning something like Jordan Brown did at the Welsh Open. I know it is difficult, but it is possible. I’m targeting deep runs in tournaments rather than ranking positions or staying on. Getting to the last 16 of the European Masters, although I’d have liked to go further, felt as if I was properly part of the tournament. That atmosphere is great. You can’t predict when you will play well, win matches or when other players will do well against you. If my good runs come at the wrong time when there is less money involved, then that is just the way it is going to go.”
In your time away from the baize you have a YouTube channel where you produce rap videos and recently released a song about online trolls sending abusive messages to snooker players. What was the motivation behind creating the song?
“Disappointingly enough, I don’t care about the messages personally. It doesn’t bother me. I know the song would suggest it does, but I find the song entertaining. I wrote it because I did receive death threats, but what are they going to do? They are wrong for doing it, but I see why they are. They are annoyed and frustrated. I was hoping that it would reflect a lot of feelings, because although it doesn’t bother me so much, there must be others who have kids or family. It is a relevant topic and I thought this could be something that I could do to raise awareness. It did go all over Twitter and all over the internet. This shouldn’t be allowed but it is hard to find a solution because social media is very easy to use. I’ve always said you should need to provide proof of who you are to make an online account.
“I’ve found a lot of the time if you reply to them there will be a little click in their head that recognises you are a real person. They are watching on TV and sending a death threat, but after a response they can sometimes feel bad. One person called me a useless clown and I replied and said I did my best. They then came back and said they wished me all the best for the rest of the season. Clearly they have felt bad about that. Some of them just continue regardless of what you do. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it will ever stop as people do what people do and if one person stops, then someone else will start. If you close one account it is very easy to open another.”
Have you got any other songs in the pipeline?
“I’ve got a song which is half finished. It is a melody called Dark Clouds, which I am releasing with the charity Silence of Suicide. I haven’t got a female vocalist yet, but I am looking for one as it would balance it out. I feel this song is very good and actually could get in the charts, so I want to do it right. Because of those reasons I want to get a proper backing track, which is originally made and free of any copyright problems. I haven’t found anyone yet, but if anyone is out there please get in touch. I just need someone to produce that for me. It should be done in time for World Mental Health Day which is the 11th October.
“It’s the first serious song I’ve ever done so I was a bit unsure of how to do it. I just tried to put myself in three different positions. That of somebody about to take their own life and how hopeless they feel – another highlighting how there is help out there for everyone – and also the position of somebody who has just lost a loved one to suicide. I’m pleased with it and I think it sounds great. The lyrics are very hard hitting, but the charity are also pleased with it and touched by it. I think it will be great to raise awareness for a very important issue.”
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